Though for all of the hints and leaks and files found in the beta, we haven't actually seen an event at work, and it's not completely clear just what will happen. Of course, something has to happen to Naxx for it to move north to Northrend, and we've speculated all along that, without being too spoilery, Arthas would do something to drive the Horde and Alliance to seek him out, and that's exactly what the hints are pointing at. But as for when this event will go down, and what, if any, rewards might come out of it, from Necrotic Runes or otherwise, we don't know for sure. As much as players have learned about how Wrath might kick off, Blizzard is still holding their cards close on this one.
Christie Golden drops more info about Arthas - Thu, 25 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST BlizzPlanet has a nice tidbit from Christie Golden about her upcoming novel about Arthas Menethil (better known as half of the Lich King, that bad guy we're going to be spending a lot of time with in the expansion). The book is due out next year (so odds are that we'll be approaching the end of the story by the time it hits store shelves), but it'll offer a look at the bad guy way before he started being bad -- the book starts with Arthas as a 10-year-old Prince, and covers everything between there to his little meltdown we witnessed in Warcraft III. The romance with Jaina is supposed to get some good coverage as well, so the book should be a good read.
And there are some bonuses for close readers as well -- we'll have seen some scenes before (including one between Arthas and Muradin in Beyond the Dark Portal), but of course, in this book, they'll be from Arthas' perspective. Arthas is undoubtedly the villian of the next ten levels in WoW (they even named the thing after him), but it's really exciting to have a villian with such an interesting and twisted past behind him.
Soon. This used to be Blizzard's favorite word, a nebulous term that assured us that they were working hard on things. Blizzard always used the phrase "when it's ready" to describe something they were working on. Historically, getting things ready could take a long time. Years, even. This was the Blizzard we all came to know and love. They took their time with things, but at least you knew that they weren't going to release anything half-baked. 'Soon(R)' was actually a very reassuring word to us.
This time around, though, 'soon' is actually November 13, Wrath of the Lich King's shipping date. The announcement came as a surprise to some of us, specially those who were in the Beta and knew a lot of the classes still needed balancing. But a confirmed release date is always exciting and I suppose that overshadowed whatever doubts we might have had about Wrath being ready in time. And then yesterday, Koraa posted something over at the Hunter forums that greatly disturbed me. Talking about Trap Mastery, he said: "this will now be the 41-point Survival talent. Granted, not very sexy for a 41-pointer but we'll do some changes there in a future patch (after WOLK ships)."
Did I read that right? Did Koraa actually admit that they'll be shipping Wrath of the Lich King with a Hunter talent they know isn't ready for primetime? Didn't he essentially say, "we know it doesn't work, but we'll fix it after we release it"? I don't know about you, but that just doesn't sound like the Blizzard we've all come to know and love. Even Ghostcrawler mentioned that the 51-point talent Riptide wasn't going to ship with the intended sounds and animation. Am I supposed to be apprehensive now? Because honestly, I am.
Upon dipping into the Wrath beta for the first time about a month ago, I quickly realized being a Resto Shammy wasn't going to cut it for leveling from 70-80 (don't worry too much, though, dedicated Restos, as that says more about my lack of patience for the spec than the actual strength of the spec itself). I switched Elemental the first time I got in there, and haven't looked back since. And while I'm finding all kinds of fun little strengths in the Elemental tree (my spell crit is much higher than it ever was, obviously, and Lighting Overload, even though it's not new in Wrath, is a lot of fun), the real standout is the 51-point talent, Thunderstorm.
Here's a spell that does its darndest to focus on two issues caster Shamans have had in the past: running out of mana and getting caught in melee. The name could probably use a tweak (it's more of a Lightningstrike than a Thunderstorm), but the spell effect is great, and while it's gone through a few tuning iterations in the beta so far, odds seem good that it'll come out being one of the best-used tools in the Elemental Shammy's arsenal.
There seems to be an observed Horde bias here at WoWInsider, especially within the World of WarCrafts column. So today we're going to focus on a craft that should be a perfect fit for the Grand Alliance. I present you with the Alliance QQ Nullifier. Here is what you will need:
Resurrection etiquette - Thu, 25 Sep 2008 16:30:00 EST No matter what you do in the World of Warcraft, you risk stepping into a sludge pool of drama. From arguments about class mechanics to heated discussions with trolls, to distribution of loot, it is impossible to avoid conflict.
In my personal gaming experience, I would have to say that most of the time I become upset, angry, annoyed or feel the need to take a time out, it is because I chose to run a dungeon with a pick-up group. Whether I'm tanking or healing, I inevitably run into people who seem to have no regard for other players.
As an example, I have a strong policy about my resurrection ability. I feel that if you die, whether from a stupid mistake of your own or a legitimate reason, you deserve to be resurrected.
On the other hand, if the entire party wipes, and no one had a soulstone or self-resurrection available, I believe everyone should run.
Sure, if you have to hit the washroom or someone comes to the door, I'll run with everyone else and pick you up after, and that's no problem.
Mostly good things for Warlocks today. Well, since yesterday, I mean. In the latest Beta build, Haunt has been thankfully buffed to heal you for 200% of the damage it did, up from a measly 20%. This is massive. Did I say massive? I mean gargantuan. Godzilla-like. This is the pure awesome that you can only ask for in Beta. Except... it actually doesn't heal for 200%. In fact, I think it still heals for 20%. Koraa has popped over to the Warlock Beta forums to say a couple of things about this: one, that "it should be more than 20%" and two, that they'll fix it. That should be comforting. Although it's Koraa talking, so... light your Doomsday Candles now and start chanting.
Metamorphosis cooldown has been reduced to 3 minutes instead of 5, which feels a little more useful. Although to balance this out, it lasts 30 seconds (down from 45) and increases damage by 20% instead of 40%. It's a nerf to total DPS, but still not a bad change, as a shorter cooldown allows more flexibility in the use of the ability. The real problem with Metamorphosis right now is that the demon abilities are just... all wrong. Demon form actually merits it's own post, so I'll write about that some other time, but I'll leave you with this one to chew on: Challenging Howl. Yeah, just in case you're one of those cuckoohead Warlocks who've always dreamed of tanking, you've got your wish. You weirdo.
Just a short this week in honor of Brewfest. Which has ironically fallen on the same week as this school's homecoming, so no matter where I look there are parties and drunken revelry. Anyways, I haven't had the chance to participate in Brewfest too much this year, although I did roll up an alliance not long ago and rode the Tram for the first time.
Barrens Chat is a weekly comic strip that's been shortened today due to too many trips through the festival grounds. If you're looking for something longer, why not try an unwanted parody. Like 'em short and sweet? Try this shocking shorty. Come back next week for another comic!
Welcome back to Ask a Beta Tester! We'll jump right into things today with a question from Snuffles...
In regards to flight, what areas are restricted (besides Dalaran) and how to they prevent us from flying over the ocean? Is it a wall, or a new fatigue system?
Beyond places that are indoors and you can't mount period, Dalaran and Wintergrasp are the two no-flight zones I've seen. You can't fly in Dalaran so it's more city-like, and Lake Wintergrasp so you actually have to take part in the combat and plan your travel routes, not simply fly from point A to point B without a care in the world. Flying too far out to sea gives you a fatigue bar
If you read the site (and if you don't read the site you're not reading this now, so I suppose it doesn't matter) then you may have seen yesterday's minimalist beta build notes and the relative storm of comments they created. If not, and if you're terribly opposed to clicking a link, I'll go over the basics. See how much I love you? Well, no, not that way. I'm married.
Anyway, the basic gist of it is simple enough. In buffing the Stoneclaw totem so that it protects other totems (a clearly PvP oriented buff, as totems are rarely targeted by mob AI) a small problem has been quickly discerned by shamans everywhere. We shamans are very, very fast at seeing potential pitfalls. And this one is a relative doozy. In PvP, you will often drop Tremor Totem, as it is the only way for a shaman to prevent being feared or charmed. If you're not dropping that, you'll probably drop Strength of Earth for the boost to strength and agility, popular stats among the physical DPSers. And recently Earthbind was stated to be getting a buff that clears snares and roots.
So far this all looks pretty good, I'm sure. The problem is, these are all earth totems. So if you want to try and shield your precious torso... er, totems... from damage, or keep yourself from being feared all over the battleground or arena, or clear those pesky roots and snares, or buff your friendly face smashers you can't. You can only do one. Which will it be, shamans?
So what, you may say? Other classes have to choose which buffs they can have. Warriors can't provide commanding shout and battle shout at the same time. Paladins don't get ret aura and devo aura at the same time. Having to choose what totems you drop is what seperates shaman players from bots that just thunk down the same totems all the time.
The nerf bat swung and we got grazed a little bit. I didn't cover the last build's changes because they were somewhat minor, and most of them were reverted in this latest build anyway except for the change to Beacon of Light's duration to one minute (and all ranks work now). That's a buff, just in case you were wondering. On the other hand, the rest of the news is not so good.
Seals were nerfed again. The coefficients for Seal of Vengeance / Corruption, Seal of Blood / of the Martyr, and Seal of Command were lowered. I don't really have much to say about this other than that I'm disappointed but confident that it's all balanced. I haven't done as extensive a test of the Beta as I probably should, so if these damage nerfs were based on hard numbers that Blizzard has gathered, then they're probably right. I have to believe that.
Melee hits no longer refresh Judgements, which means that in order for the debuff to stay on opponents, Paladins will actually have to continuously Judge them. With the change to Crusader Strike some time back removing its Judgement refresh feature, this means Judgements will be every Paladin's responsibility. This also means Blizzard is forcing Holy or healing Paladins to insert Judgements into their rotation. With Judgements eating up the GCD now, I'm not so keen on the idea.
Yesterday I wanted to impress you all on my first Moviewatch post, so I showed you a very classy, serious movie. Today? Not so much! Instead, today I offer you a good laugh. MTGScreenie brings us his musical and comedy stylings in the form of Stuck in the World of Warcraft. This music video, set to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," but with WoW-specific lyrics, is a comic ode to the game he loves. MTGScreenie's singing isn't going to win any awards, but I think that makes the song even more endearing and funny, especially when he strains to hit the high notes or runs out of breath because the song outpaces him. The visuals won't blow you away, but you'll see lots of amusing reminders of things you love and hate about playing WoW. Seriously, people, who doesn't love lag and ganking!
Welcome to Scattered Shots, your weekly source for all things Hunter. This week, Daniel Whitcomb begins his stint as the official main author of the column.
One of the coolest Hunter class changes in the expansion is the addition of the Freezing Arrow, which essentially the ability to "throw" a Freezing Trap at a targeted patch of ground. It's the type of ability Hunters have been asking for for a long time. Thinking of this, I noticed we haven't had a good trap discussion and primer for a long time, and now is as good a time as any.
Traps are one of those parts of the Hunter class that separate the skilled from the Auto Shot AFKers. If you know how to use traps properly, it is much easier for you, as DPS, to stand out from the pack and prove that you bring enough to a group to merit a place on dungeon runs and friends lists. With that in mind though, the trap system is far from perfect, and some traps are definitely better than others. We'll take a look at each trap after the break.
One of the things that continues to surprise me about WoW is the amount of content that few, if any, people will really see. The dragon massacring a group of adventurers under the flight path to Burning Steppes is a great example. This waterfall and house, high above Elwynn Forest, is another one. It was meant to be just decoration on the flight path between Stormwind and Ironforge, but smart hunter Aurelio made it to the top of the waterfall and used Eagle Eye to get some good shots. If only there were some NPCs up there!
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.
Michael Fromwiller is a student at San Jose University, but in the WoW community he's better known as Moongaze, creator of the popular Lunarsphere addon. He also created another addon called Besharded a while back, which was an unofficial clone of PopCap's Bejeweled, a game he'd played a lot on his cell phone. PopCap heard about the addon, and when word got around to T. Carl Kwoh, a senior producer at the company, they decided, rather than shutting down the unofficial version, to try and hire Moongaze to make it official.
Our interview with both of them, which starts after the break, covers how the game came together, how Moongaze took influences from both PopCap and WoW to fit one game inside another, and why inserting another game into World of Warcraft doesn't exactly mean there are holes in Blizzard's game.
Breakfast Topic: Beta grief - Thu, 25 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST Although the Wrath of the Lich KingBeta has been up for months now, I acquired my key rather late, and one thing I noticed right off the bat is that the quality of player behavior takes a sharp dive on the realms.
It's a well-known fact that Internet anonymity morphs regular people into asshats, but because Beta testers are not connected to their guilds, in-game names, realms or friends, evidently, the anonymity factor hits the roof.
My minty new Death Knight had her deathcharger "stolen" from her, among other things, and mobs and pick-up items are high commodities. The general chat is filled with derision and insults, and the extreme lag helps none of this.
What kinds of experiences have you had in the Beta, with either surprisingly helpful players or extremely aggravating ones?
A nice surprise awaited the citizens of Stormwind and the Undercity when the new Beta build went live earlier. New, unique models for King Varian Wrynn and Lady Sylvanas Windrunner debuted in their respective cities, looking every bit as awesome as faction leaders should be. Although Lady Sylvanas received a makeover over a month ago -- changed from the erroneous Night Elf model into the proper High or Blood Elf model -- this newest iteration is more regal, more intimidating, and just more badass. Taking a screenshot proved difficult as throngs of admirers threw all sorts of emotes at the new Dark Lady from /cowers to /kisses.
King Varian Wrynn in Stormwind also received a graphic overhaul, upgrading from pre-TBC PvP Honor gear to a unique armor set with an eagle and lion motif. He also no longer dual-wields Jade Serpentblades but more appropriately what looks like Quel'serrar. So Wrynn has apparently taken care of the Onyxia problem. Twice. Alex Ziebart points out that he also seems to be wearing Anduin Lothar's belt (always thank your lore nerds!). It's a cool model except that he always seems to be scowling and occasionally yawns. But the details matter -- Varian's face is also battle-scarred -- and I want to seriously give props to the Blizzard artists behind these new models. They're just completely fantastic.
[EDIT: I probably should have mentioned this, too, since I'd already checked it out but reader RogueJedi86 called me on it -- they also updated the dragon model for Alexstraza, and can be viewed on World of Raids. She really likes her trinkets and baubles like the sophisticated lady that she is...]
In other news, this Beta build also saw the traitorious Varimathras converted into a duotone Rubik's Cube. Maybe a placeholder for better graphics or punishment for being such an arrogant lackey? If anything, however, with all these unique models coming out, perhaps it's a good time to update the other boss models in the game. Thrall, the baddest of all badasses, still looks like he's in Level 40 greens [NOTE: Reader Skeeran correctly reminds me that Thrall's armor is Orgrim Doomhammer's armor as seen in Warcraft III... but it still looks like Level 40 greens.]. Even worse off is Cairne Bloodhoof, who looks like he got all his gear from the Wailing Caverns. Since these bosses are soon going receive a lot of visitors, it's probably a good time to dress them up properly to receive them. I mean, Tyrande Whisperwind is still wearing a nightdress...
Shamans see some changes in today's Beta build. Nothing world-shaking, a few small buffs and a small nerf and a change that I honestly can't tell which category to place it in.
Stoneclaw Totem also protects your other totems, causing them to absorb damage.
Well, this certainly isn't a bad change. It does mean that wand macros will be changed to target the Stoneclaw totem first, I suppose, giving your other totems a few seconds more of life. (Since Stoneclaw has a decent amount of health, it will actually take a couple of hits to die.) Not a magnificent buff, but not bad either.
Riptide sees its base healing increased on each rank.
Each rank of this spell will now heal for more, giving it more oomph as an HoT spell. Again, nothing bad to say about that, right?
Today's Wrath beta patch has a few Shadow Priest changes, but nothing particularly substantial. It seems like a nerf across the board, but this is something we should be used to by now. The devs say that, in level 80 epics, our damage is competitive to other classes, but we'll have to wait and see when we're in those epics, I suppose.
This isn't too big of an issue if the coefficient is still high. If this is/was coupled with a lower coefficient again, it would be utterly ridiculous. As it is, maybe not such a big deal. Lowering the base damage may actually allow the spell to scale better without becoming terribly broken. It may level off nicely once you're out of greens.
It is pretty amazing to think that before Burning Crusade released, there were no such things as Blood Elves or Draenei, the only Arena in the game was Gurubashi, and only the Horde ever had Shamans in their raids. But nowadays all of those things are commonplace, and odds are that the game will change just as much with Wrath -- siege vehicles will be a huge part of the game, Death Knights will be everywhere, achievements will be just as big a goal as any other part of the game, and phasing will be the norm (you'll never be sure that the player next to you is seeing exactly what you're seeing in the game world).
Lume doesn't go so far as to call it a new game (though Blizzard may want to), but there's no question that even though the most basic game mechanics stay in place (you still use abilities on action bars to kill creatures and gain experience), the quests, graphics, and storylines will look very different. BC changed our game once, and Wrath is set to change it yet again.